Tuesday, April 24, 2012

6th World Water Forum in Marseille – Time for Solutions

March 12- 17, 2012, Marseille, France 

Every three years since 1997, the World Water Forum mobilizes creativity, innovation, competence and know-how in favour of water. It gathers all stakeholders around today’s local, regional and global issues that cannot be undertaken without all stakeholders into a common framework of goals and concrete targets to reach. The goal of the 6th World Water Forum was to tackle the challenges our world is facing and to bring water high on all political agendas.

Children participated in the opening session singing songs for saving water around the world.

The 6th WWF focused on the thought – Time for Solutions. It brought together stakeholders from different worlds and activities, with different interests and goals, to discuss and work on common objectives for providing solutions to everyday water problems. From 12th to 17th March, over 250 sessions were dedicated to providing solutions! Apart from many technical sessions, there were number of political meetings. The Ministerial Declaration (http://www.worldwaterforum6.org/en/news/single/article/the-ministerial-declaration-of-the-6th-world-water-forum/) was prepared through a series of Preparatory Committee meetings (PrepComs) by national governments in consultation with Major Groups, international organisations and the thematic/ regional coordinators of the Forum. Part of the political process was also the Regional Trialogues organised among Ministers, Parliamentarians and Local/Regional Authorities. These Trialogues were based on targets selected by the regions themselves and discussed as to how each level of government can help the other in their implementation and whether improved multi-level governance mechanisms would aid in achieving their solutions.

The Butterfly Effect

Butterfly Effect sessions, Solutions from civil society: Inspiring change through a human rights based approach and Occupy the 6th World Water Forum: Building inclusive human rights-based governance is in progress.
The Butterfly Effect is a coalition of international NGOs, which advocates effective local solutions that have a sustainable impact on water and sanitation. We have consulted with NGOs for over a year, bringing our experience and expertise together with a common set of messages for government delegates at the 6th World Water Forum, March 2012. Made up of over 90 civil society organisations, NGOs, networks and womens’ organisations, we are an open movement that’s growing fast. Our solutions are based on human rights principles, communities’ experience, and relate to policies, projects, information campaigns and empowering stakeholders. Crucially, these solutions are local, sustainable, adaptable, innovative, equitable, accountable and people-orientated.

Butterfly session – cat walk for water brought in key messages from Civil Society Organisations in an innovative way (in Picture – Anjal and Jayati from SaciWATERs)
Time for lunch and networking!

Vocational Training of youth from Sultanpur village in Peri-Urban Gurgaon

SaciWATERs collaborated with GMR Varalakshmi Centre of Empowerment and Livelihood for providing Capacity Building training for selected youth from Sultanpur village in Peri-urban Gurgaon. The duration of this collaboration was three months, starting from January 16th till April 16th, 2012. Objective of this collaboration was to provide a platform for village youths to learn newer skills, which in turn would provide an alternate source of livelihood for families solely dependent on agriculture. This is also part of the Gurgaon team’s effort to empower youth, in order to deal with likely loss of their source of livelihoods, once lands are either acquired or sold.

At the time of writing this blog, all five students had successfully completed their training. Four students enrolled in Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning (RAC) course have been offered on-the-job training (OJT) for 45 days. On completion of the OJT period, followed by another round of evaluation, they will become eligible for jobs in Voltas Company, one of the world’s premier engineering solutions providers and project specialists.

As a follow-up to the training, four students from the village were spoken to, in order to know their experiences and learning from the training programme. This blog post documents their views about the training, in their own words.

Name of Student – Mr. Madan Singh

Training Experience
The courses as well as teachers were good. RAC was the main course taught to us, however, we were given additional classes in Personality Development, English and Computer. All the courses were very good. Classes used to begin at 9:30 AM and end at 4:45 PM. Four classes were held daily. I did not have any prior knowledge of RAC, however, after four to five classes, I started finding it very interesting. A lot of emphasis was given to practical learning and we were also taken for plant/company visits near the Delhi airport. I believe that this training has provided me an alternate working option. I look forward to go for the OJT and also take up the opportunity to work. 

Name of Student – Mr. Rahul Chauhan

Training Experience
As the training progressed, my interest in RAC course increased. After completion of the course, I believe I have an additional ability/skill and I can think of pursuing this further as a livelihood option. Now, I can say that I can do something in addition to farming. It was a very good experience and teachers were also good. There was a sense on motivation from teacher’s side to make us learn the RAC course. I cannot think of any negative point associated with the training. The total batch size was about 16-17 students. About 10-11 students were from Delhi, 4 students from Sultanpur village and 2 students from Manesar. We could also interact with students from other courses and in the process, made many friends. Given an opportunity, I would definitely want to work.

Name of Student – Mr. Happy Sharma

Training Experience
The overall training experience was very good. It was my 1st such exposure to a training programme. In addition to academic knowledge, the training provided a platform for interaction with new people and make new friends. Another additional advantage was by exposure to courses such as Personality Development, Computer and English. There were no negatives associated with the training. I will definitely go for the OJT.

Name of Student – Mr. Pawan Kumar

Training Experience
Prior to joining the training programme, I did not know anything about personality development, but now, I know many things about it. After the three months training in electrical course, I can make all electrical fittings of my house. I can also open my own electronic shop and ensure that it runs successfully. Thus, now I can stand on my own legs. The environment at the training centre was very good. We also used to get different food daily. There was not even a single reason for any complaint. I have made many friends; some of them even belong to Jhansi. What I learnt over three months at the training centre is equal to whatever I was taught till my 10th standard school education! The English teacher was very good and I used to tell her that if I had earlier taken lessons from her, I would have been in a very good position by now. Teachers used to teach from the ground level. It is after 8 years of gap that I got into a formal training/education set-up. This could be one reason why I could not perform well in the course. Also, I have spoken about this course to other village youths and in future, they could be interested in going for such training programmes. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Capacity building workshop of Junior Engineers from Public Health Engineering Department, Gurgaon

The capacity-building and training workshop of the employees of the PHED (Public Health and Engineering Department) was organized on the 12th of April, 2012. It was attended by nineteen employees of the rank of Junior Engineer (JE), two employees of the rank of Sub-divisional Engineer (SDE) and two employees of the rank of Executive Engineer (EE). They represented the divisions of Gurgaon, Faridabad and Sohna.

          Participants from Gurgaon, Faridabad and
 Sohna divisions of PHED 
Dr. Anjal Prakash briefing the participants
 about peri-urban water security project 

The workshop began with an introduction by Dr. Anjal Prakash on SaciWATERs and its activities as well as the on-going IDRC supported project on Water Security in Peri-urban South Asia – Adapting to Climate Change and Urbanization. He then lead the participants through a game in which they were given cards to introduce themselves in pairs as an ice-breaking exercise and to share their expectations from the workshop as well as one major challenge each  that they faced in their jobs and with regard to dealing with water as a resource. 

PHED Officials penning down their
expectations from the training
Participants sharing with their colleagues, 
expectations from the training, organizational challenges 
& challenges of dealing with water as a resource
The participants  identified several challenges that they were faced with: prominent among these were the low awareness among water users about how precious water resources were, rampant misuse of water, widespread illegal connections, abuse by water users including threats and occasional physical violence, poor distribution infrastructure and frequent burning of motors. They expressed concern over any lack of fear of public authority among water users because of which they misused water and abused PHED property.  While electricity thefts were considered as punishable in society,  the same did not seem to apply to water, that was considered a much more basic good and water thefts as legitimate ways of quenching thirst and meeting basic needs.  Another issue was the relationship between energy and water; on account of erratic power supply, water users pump water whenever electricity is available. Understaffing and the absence of mutual accountability relations between the water users and providers was another problem.

This was followed by a presentation by Dr. Vishal Narain who spoke about the need for the training of the employees of the PHED in the larger context of the current project. He said that urbanization and climate change were both impacting the water availability in peri-urban locations. These were aggravating the impacts of water insecurity already experienced by people on account of such factors as caste, class, gender and location. While the project was only of three-year duration, a long term engagement of the workshop participants with their field settings made a case for a sensitization to issues of peri-urban water security. The aim of the workshop was to supplement and enhance their skills in dealing with managerial and social issues.

Dr. Vishal Narain briefing PHED officials
about rationale of the training 
As part of the role play, a dialogue in
progress between the villagers and PHED officials 

This was followed by an interesting role play led by Dr. Anjal Prakash in which the participants split into two groups; one each representing the villagers and the PHED. Two senior participants were designated as observers. The team representing the village then approached the team representing the PHED. The villagers complained to the PHED regarding the absence of water supply for ten days; a blame game and accusations followed. After the role play, the observers presented their observations, namely, that the villagers while accusing the PHED of poor supply did not mention the specific problem or reasons. Nor did the PHED representatives try to find out or explore what the problem was. The overall message was that both sides should have communicated more effectively and clearly.

This was followed by a discussion on several problems in providing water supply to peri-urban locations.  An important issue raised was that rapid urbanization invited migrants who came in as temporary settlers in areas where they were not registered or shown as inhabitants. This leads to underestimation of population to be served and results in several errors in planning. Since water is considered basic to human sustenance, water thefts are not even recognized as such.  Field staffs often face the lure of money as a corrupting influence on one hand and threats and physical assault on the other.  Even if PHED property is damaged and an FIR is sought to be lodged, such a request is not entertained.

This was followed by a short presentation by Dr. Anjal Prakash on gender issues in water supply and he shared experience with a range of water supply improvement options and solutions in peri-urban, urban and informal contexts. He also gave examples of cases where water supply had improved even under conditions of water scarcity and suggested the possibility of organizing an exposure visit of PHED employees to see such successful experiments. 

In the afternoon, the group was joined by representatives from Sultanpur village. The afternoon session began with the screening of a participatory video that was scripted, acted out and shot by a group of women from Jhanjhrola Khera. The video was about the health effects of consuming unsafe water and how women could take precautions through a wide range of options for treating water before drinking. 

Screening of Participatory Video
 from Jhanjhrola Khera

The village headman from
Sultanpur interacting with PHED officials 

This was followed by a dialogue between the representatives of Sultanpur and the workshop participants. The former shared their experiences and problems in getting drinking water in the village. They get water from the Gurgaon Water Supply Channel. There is a problem of water distribution internally. They have cement pipes that are easy to rupture or break or take illegal connections. These pipes need to be replaced by D.I. (Ductile Iron) pipes. The workshop participants from the PHED said that it was important to have tutis (taps) installed over all the connections to prevent wastage of water. Mr. Pradeep Kumar, the Executive Engineer in-charge of Sultanpur then suggested that as a follow-up to the local stakeholders meeting that was organized in the village, he had placed order for replacement of the pipe by a D.I. pipe, that had been approved. In due course, this would be done and then through a village level meeting, they could develop a plan for forming a water management committee and handing over the distribution infrastructure to them.

The meeting ended with a round of circulation of cards on which the participants scribbled their major learning. For most participants, the major takeaway was the need for more effective communication between water users and service providers. As a follow-up, Dr. Anjal Prakash suggested a continued engagement with the PHED and the possibility of further capacity-building activities through exposure visits as well as training on technical issues and subjects. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Capacity Building Training Programme on Rain Water Harvesting and Management for Ravirala & Aliabad Farmers

A Capacity Building Training Programme was conducted on “Water Harvesting and Management” on the 28th and 29th of March, 2012 at Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA). The training was targeted at farmers, women and youth of the Ravirala and Aliabad villages.

1st Day – 28th March, 2012:
The training was initiated at Research In Environment, Education And Development Society (REEDS) office, Champapet. Mr. Satya Bhoopal Reddy, President - Reeds Organization, had started the programme by introducing the topic - “Roof Rain Water Harvesting and Management” to the participants. Consecutively, he demonstrated a Roof Rain Water Harvesting structure which he built in 1993.

Photograph 1: Demonstration of Rain Water Harvesting Structures

The participants later gathered at CRIDA for further sessions. Mr. I. Srinivas. Senior Scientist, CRIDA (Farm Machinery and Power) has enlightened the participants on the latest agricultural techniques & methods. He suggested that each farmer should go for agricultural machinery which can save manure by 30 % and seed by 30%. Solar dried products and their uses were also discussed by him. Participants were also told about various schemes available for youth from DRDA. Women were explained about the advantages of large scale production of these products and the means of getting a loan.

Field Visit:
A field visit was organized for all participants. Mr. Satish, S.R.F explained about a rainwater harvesting pond & showed an experimental micro watershed. 

Photograph 2: Participants being shown of an experimental Micro Watershed

After lunch, Mr. Srinivasa Reddy, Scientist, CRIDA spoke in detail about dryland agriculture and watershed programme.  Participants were advised to go for plantation as it helps in absorbing the rain water. He also explained about importance of farm bunding, with an insight into clay bundings and their uses.  Participants were told about various NREGS schemes that are useful to them.

2nd Day – 29th March, 2012:
Mr. Ramappa, the technical assisstant began by introducing the concepts and methods of soil conservation. He explained the importance of farm bunds in moisture retention.
Later, participants were taken on a field visit.

Photograph 3: Display of various machinery to the participants.

Dr. T. R. Tyagaraj took over after the tea break on the topic -  Drought – Water Management, Global Warming & Irrigation. He suggested farmers to go for crops which consume less water unlike paddy or sugar cane. He told the benefits of cultivating the crops using Drip System, where technology can be obtained from APMIP.

Photograph 4: Manure Management

Mr. Dasarathrami Reddy, Plant protection –SMS- CRIDA, spoke about pest control. He suggested that all participants should take interest in pest control. He also explained about the life cycle of some of insects. 

Mr. Joseph, S.M.S – Agriculture Extension trained the participants in the area of “Communication Skills”.
Photograph 5: Insight into various Agricultural Methods.

Mr. Sri Krishna, gave an insight on the production methods of vegetables, insects & pest control methods.
Overall, the training turned out to be a fruitful one for the people of both villages as they got solutions to most of the problems faced by them.

The trainings also included communication skills to enhance the Committees of both the villages in their roles & responsibilities.

Photograph 6: Few Participants of the Training

Managing Community Impacts of Climate Change

March 12th and 13th  2012
organised by Monash University, Kolkata

A two day workshop was organised by the Monash University in Kolkata (ITC Sonar Bangla Hotel) on “Managing Community Impacts of Climate Change”. This workshop was attended by members of NGOs, academic institutions and other civil society bodies in West Bengal and a few other states, who presented their work along similar lines.

Ms. Sreoshi Singh of SaciWATERs presented the Peri-urban Water Security project and its activities in South Asia to the rest of the participants, where issues with regard to the peri-urban sites were highlighted along with how the communities were adapting to the changing climate. The various advocacy initiatives that have been/are being planned at the different study sites were also presented. The group appreciated the project and its objectives and realised how urbanisation as a process in itself would be an added problem to deal with, in the light of climate change. The peri-urban issues highlighted in the SaciWATERs presentation, however, raised the eyebrows of the organisers, who were working especially in the lower Ganga delta in India and Bangladesh and had not really considered the huge impact of urbanisation in these areas, when it comes to managing communities to deal with climate change.  

The academic circle also showed concern about the loss of surface storages in Hyderabad and urged the need for strict policy action to protect them in the face of rapid urbanisation and reduced water access in peri-urban areas.

Proceeding on "Policy Dialogue on Groundwater Security"

Policy Dialogue on Groundwater Security in Kathmandu Valley
(The Everest Hotel, New Baneshwor, Kathmandu, Nepal)

Jointly Organized by

Water Security in Peri-urban South Asia Project
Nepal Engineering College- Center for Postgraduate Studies
Jalshrot Vikas Sanstha (JVS), Nepal/Global Water Partnership-Nepal

Date: 20th March 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

53 acres of an important resource, Now a village anguish

Peerancheru, a village located close to the Outer Ring Road has had a massive real estate boom. But the pitiable state of the Peerancheru lake has masked the blessing of development in this region........

Photograph 1
As I was entering into the village, I really wondered if this place can still be called a village. I was welcomed by high rise buildings; and also majority of the houses were more than two floors. I noticed that these buildings were all new, with latest designs mostly built in the last two years (Photograph 1). It was very evident that small, old styled houses were slowly being replaced by these modern, chic houses. For once, I thought that I was in a place just like any other urban colony. But then, a hard reality struck to me, when I saw a man  carrying a water vessel over his shoulder walking towards his home. I also noticed a motorcyclist carrying an Ibibo water can. As I slowly moved to the centre of village, I saw women carrying these heavy water vessels and walking long distances!

Photograph 2
At the Gram Panchayat, we noticed two community water tanks. One tank stored the fresh water, while the other one stored the bore water (salt water). The bore water tank has an altitude of around 30 feet. Around the fresh water tank, I spotted a group of women (Photograph 2) who had gathered to collect water. It was a pitiable sight to see a woman aged around 60 years carrying water to her home. With such good housing facilities, I was inquisitive to know their water situation. On enquiring, I was shocked to hear that these people are supplied with drinking water once in a week, once in twenty days or even once in a month! And hence, most often, they are left with no choice but to consume salt water, when they are devoid of the fresh water. Some households have direct pipelines to their homes; supplying both freshwater as well as the salt water. But, these women do not depend upon the pipeline, since they are very well aware of the erratic supply of water. Everyday, these women spend about one and a half hours in transporting this precious resource to their homes.

Photograph 3
Photograph 4
Finally after seeing the ground reality, it was time for us to interact with few of the officials & the village representatives. Peerancheru lake is a very precious resource for the people of this village. Only if this lake is full, the bore wells are fully recharged and water problems in the village will be solved. But, it has been more than 20 years since the lake has been used as a source of drinking water. The villagers felt very nostalgic remembering those days when the lake was a vital part of their lives. It served as a source of drinking water as well as other domestic purposes. Down the lane, few communities also had been benefitted from the lake, where fishes were cultivated as a livelihood option. But now, the situation has changed so drastically over the years that this lake can’t even be used for washing clothes (Photograph 4). Fishing activity could not be continued as the fishes could not survive the highly polluted water. Moreover, it was also very dangerous for humans to consume fish grown in such toxic water.

There are three reasons for the pollution of the lake.
  1.  The Andhra Pradesh Police Academy (APPA) releases its effluents into the lake (Photograph 5);
  2. The waste from the slaughter houses is being dumped in the vicinity of the lake (Photograph 6). In the process, the runoff from this waste is leading to the contamination of the water.
  3.  The third and the most important reason for the pollution of the lake is the release of effluents from a big private hospital – Shadan Hospital
Photograph 5
Photograph 6
The villagers claimed that even after repeated complaints and pleadings to the concerned government departments/officials regarding the release of the effluents into the lake, no action has been taken place.  Adding to the plight is the dumping of waste in the periphery of the lake by the slaughter houses. The waste is also dumped in an area which is just above the drinking water pipeline. In the past, the drinking water got contaminated with the leachate from the waste. The pipeline had to be repaired and the drinking water supply had to be halted for few days. Huge waste is also dumped along the circumference of the lake. This waste is also deposited in the open effluent discharge pipeline (APPA Effluent pipeline), thus carrying the waste with its effluent stream into the lake (Photograph 7). This runoff is the reason for increase in the turbidity, odour as well as the BOD in the lake.

Photograph 7
Photograph 8
The biggest source of pollution in the lake is the Shadan Hospital which releases its chemical effluents into the lake. On careful observations, we can clearly identify the oil-water interface on the surface of the water (Photograph 8). The villagers have been fighting over this issue for quite a few years. These people have left no stone unturned to meet bureaucrats, officials, representatives, etc, pleading for protecting the lake from the noxious effluents. The representatives of the village articulate that the hospital has big political backup due to which all their pleas and complaints have been turned down leaving them extremely helpless and vulnerable. 
However, some citizens of the village are still hopeful of justice in their favour, some day in the future. It’s good to see these brave people fighting against highly influential people for their basic rights to clean waters.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Report on the Training Programme -
“Managing Information Resources in the Digital Age”
Venue: Center for Science and Environment (CSE) 

A training programme on “Managing Information Resources in the Digital Age” was conducted by Center for Science and Environment from 20th to 23rd March, 2012 at New Delhi. The training was scheduled for four days, with two sessions in a day. 

Day # 1:
The training started with an introduction of the participants; followed by an introduction to the key programmes of CSE. The morning session included the history, structure and organization of CSE. The participants got a chance to know how the CSE was established and what the organization is doing to gather, organize and to store information. After this, there was an introduction to the concept of  “Building a collection of information resources online and offline and using internet for research”. The first half then ended with group discussions based on topics/subjects that the participant’s organization is currently working on and the challenges/problems faced by the participant in getting/accessing the information needed. Topics such as “The importance of the use of the internet for finding/sourcing information for the organization, using web 2.0 tools to find information required by the organization” were also incorporated in the course. The second session was focused on a workshop for developing a “Thesaurus based on organizational work areas and indexing and key wording them”.

Day # 2:

The day 2 training focused on managing photos and videos using a freeware software known as File Maker Pro. This session also had a practical training component to make the trainee well versed with the software. The afternoon session dealt with building a database and also focused on the importance of database for outreach, marketing and communication. Towards the end of the day an interesting documentary on social media and the information on the web which turns into action was screened.

Day #3:
 The third day of the training started with an overview to WinISIS (Information Storage and Retrieval System), software to manage and store information. This was followed by a session on Wikipedia, where the participant was enlightened on the creation of an account and adding content to it. The post-noon session was about using free and open source softwares, social media, creating a blog using Wordpress and Google analytics.

Day #4:
The central theme for the morning session was communication and online presence, which focused on diverse aspects like packaging information on the web/website, navigation and impact monitoring. There was also an emphasis on the usage of the email for communication, mass mailing, necessity for producing an email newsletter, content for email newsletter, designing and dissemination of email newsletter. Post lunch was the concluding session which had feedback from the participants followed by certificates distribution.

The training programme is very helpful personally and also for our Organization. It was a great learning experience to be a part of the training programme that brought together participants from different parts of South Asia. Both the content of the training as well as the shared experience with the participants was indeed enlightening.

The following are the specific topics that will be useful for the Organization.

·          File maker pro - software used for storing photos and videos providing keywords to find them with    ease.

·   Email newsletters can also be sent through website servers known as graphicmail.com and chimpmail.com.

·              Wikipedia can be used for promoting our websites by contributing content to it and by referencing for the given content as it is a content safe website.

·         Google analytics is used to view traffic on the web such as the number of the people who have visited the site, the location, the time spent, the source that led to the website, etc.

·               Wordpress is an online server which is used to create blogs on the web.

·              Social media helps in promoting the websites.

·         Meta tags are the important tags in a website. They give information to the server and help a user find a website with ease.

·         www.alexa.com is used to know rankings of websites.